Vaal - The new Vaal pipeline is expected to go a long way in meeting the water demands of Eskom and Sasol.
The pipeline will increase water availability to these two utilities by at least 160 million cubic meters per year.
Launching the Vaal pipeline on Wednesday, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said the 115 kilometer pipeline will secure water delivery from the Vaal Dam to Eskom power stations and to Sasol industries located in the Mpumalanga Highveld.
The project, which is dubbed Vaal River Eastern Sub-system Augmentation Project (VRESAP), was approved by Cabinet in 2004.
An agreement was signed between the department and state-owned company Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) to construct the R2.5 billion pipeline.
Eskom Chief Executive Officer Jacob Maroga said the project was very critical to the power utility given the increasing demand for energy in the country.
"Last year we had power cuts that was as a result of coal shortages, if we run out of water, the same could happen," Mr Maroga said.
During the construction of the project, employment, procurement and training opportunities were maximised for local communities resulting in 1 685 jobs being created.
The Vaal pipeline is expected to pump water uphill from the Vaal Dam through a 1.9m diameter pipeline to a surge tank located 54km away near Greylingstad. A surge tank is a reservoir that is constructed along the pipeline to provide protection against damage in the pipeline system caused by high pressures generated from sudden opening or closure of valves in the system.
From the surge tank, approximately 190m above the Vaal Dam water level, water flows downhill to the Diversion Structure at Knoppiesfontein near Secunda.
The Diversion Structure is essentially a large tank from which the water flow is split to flow in either the direction of Bosjesspriut Dam nearest to the Sasol facility or to the Trichardsfontein Dam nearest the Eskom power plant.
The pipeline runs through largely agricultural land and is buried about 1.2m and 7m deep, depending on the terrain.